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Energy Security in Switzerland

Introduction

Switzerland’s impressive record of generating, importing, and providing energy for businesses and households makes its renowned prosperity possible. The country has the cleanest electricity system among all 31 International Energy Agency countries, emitting the least amount of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt of generated power. Despite an increasing population, Switzerland has managed to reduce carbon emissions by 18.3% since 1990 while experiencing continuous economic growth.

However, the country faces challenges from the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the Swiss energy market and increasing climate change demands. To address these problems, the Swiss government plans to enact an energy strategy aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Among the policies included in the plan are heavy subsidies for renewable energy and shutting down nuclear power plants. As this report will make clear, any prescribed roadmaps to decarbonize the Swiss economy put Switzerland’s diverse and stable energy sector, energy security, and affordability at risk. Instead, the report recommends adopting dynamic regulatory thinking based on competition, market signals, and technological neutrality to ensure a resilient and diverse energy system.

About the research

The Consumer Choice Center has conducted an analysis of Switzerland’s energy market and policies to provide recommendations for decision-makers and consumers. Our objective is to help Swiss policymakers achieve a framework that can adapt to emerging challenges, while ensuring that consumers benefit from cheap electricity bills and diverse choices. The report highlights the importance of imported oil and natural gas, covering half of Switzerland’s energy needs, and emphasizes the essential role of nuclear energy and technology neutrality in vehicle regulations. The recommendations focus on aligning policies with the realities of the Swiss market to achieve consumer benefits and support energy transition plans.

Our recommendation: Technology Neutrality is Key

Technology neutrality and openness are essential guidelines for successful policy. The failures noted in this text show that it is presumptuous to set concrete planned targets by which date a particular energy source will be “phased out” in the first place. Technological innovation and consumer choice through market-based price signals are the solutions for a) energy security and b) adapting both promising and economical energy sources.

We are confident that such market openness will produce cheaper, cleaner, and more abundant energy in the medium to long term. The history of advancement has shown that such revolutions cannot be planned, and timelines cannot and should not be clearly defined. Just as there was no timetable for how long the car would take to replace the horse-drawn carriage or email to replace the letter, there will be no timetable to make Switzerland pollution-free; consumers, not self-described natural monopolies, can make that change.

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Authors

Emil Panzaru

Emil Panzaru

Research Manager

Frederic Jollien

Frederic Jollien

Swiss Policy Fellow

Frederik Roeder

Frederik Roeder

Managing Director

Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz

Senior Policy Analyst

Luca Bertoletti

Luca Bertoletti

Senior Government Affairs Manager

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